But alas. In 1786, for some unknown reason, the treasurer ceased to record the 'Bill of Fare' in the dinner books. (However, he unflaggingly continued to keep the attendance records for years.)
Why? Did the Bill of Fare no longer matter to him?
In Annals of the Royal Society Club, published in 1917, Sir Archibald Geikie attributes this unfortunate event to mere happenstance, proclaiming the two minutes of extra work being "too much for the increasingly feeble fingers of the devoted treasurer."
But I'm skeptical. After all, the treasurer's hand-writing post-1786 resembles that of a man in perfectly good health (even for a physician, no less). Thus, noble readers, I here propose an alternative explanation. The 'Bill of Fare' ceased to be recorded in 1786 because it was no longer integral to the club's identity.
I implore you, noble reader, to hear me out.
|Knowledge in the 18th century was often gleaned by|
collecting and classifying like objects.
So why not food?
|Indeed, discerning the different flavors of fruit was a serious matter|
By 1786, the Bill of Fare no longer performed the same scientific and social "work" that it once did. Antiquarian collecting was losing relevance as the principal means of organizing knowledge. And pineapples and cantaloupes were no longer complete edible novelties to those who could afford them.
In the 19th century, we start getting the menu with all of its a la carte options. But the 18th century 'Bill of Fare' was an entirely different beast.